Cottages and Gardens - For Life's Simpler Pleasures  
Cottages and Gardens - The Cottage Road
Cottages and Gardens Magazine TABLE OF CONTENTS    COVER

Marsha Simkin
Cottage Advisor

Marsha Simkin lives in Joplin, Missouri and has spent much of her life learning the almost lost arts of home cooking, decorating, entertaining, gardening and many other everyday activities.  She is a wealth of knowledge on almost any domestic matter.  And if she doesn't know an answer, she will find one or just figure it out for herself.  If you have a particular question for Marsha or would like to see an article on a particular topic, you may contact her by e-mail at

My Family's Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving was always a special holiday when I was a kid, no school and lots of good food. A time when, once a year, families would come together and give thanks. 

Mother was the best cook and did every recipe from her memory, using a cookbook just to try new recipes.  She could make a pie crust so light and airy that it melted in your mouth. She cooked Turkey to a golden perfection always using a Butterball turkey.  Mother believed in the best quality.  She always said " you get what you pay for ".  She believed that a quality purchase would last longer, therefore was the best buy. 

We always had the same menu year after year.  Sound boring, no way.  We couldn't wait for that day!  We loved it so much we generally had it on Christmas Day as well.  Thanksgiving dinner consisted of Turkey adorned with parsley and crabapples (spiced), cornbread dressing, green bean almandine, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, 5 cup salad (always puzzled me because there are 6 ingredients) orange gelatin salad with carrots, nuts, home made hot rolls, and of course pumpkin and pecan pies. 

One of the reasons Mother was such a good cook (southern style) was because she came from a long line of great cooks.   She was blessed with heredity, great instruction and recipes that were handed down from generation to generation.   Here are a few of our family's time honored Thanksgiving delights:

Cornbread Dressing
  • Drippings from the cooked turkey
  • 1 batch of 'dry' cornbread (homemade recipes work best and don't use sweet cornbreads)
  • 6 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 can chicken broth (I prefer Swanson)
  • 12 slices of white bread crumbs (toasted)
  • 2 cups of diced celery
  • 1 - 2 cups of diced onions (amount according to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tbsp. ground sage (fresh or home dried is best)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spray baking dish (9" x 13") with nonstick cooking spray.  May require 2 pans.  Fill with dressing mix and only 2/3 of the way full.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is firm.

Candied Sweet Potatoes
  • 5 medium sized sweet potatoes cut in 2" chunks
  • Cover with water and boil (medium high) until soft, but firm
  • Pour off of the water
  • Add 1 stick of butter 
  • And 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Simmer till thick (syrup consistency)
  • Put in baking dish and cover with large marshmallows
Place in broiler till golden brown.  Serve warm
5 Cup Salad
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 1 cup coconut shredded (packaged)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges
  • 3-4 cups miniature marshmallows
Mix all ingredients and chill before serving.  Perfect to make a day before.
Pecan Pie
  • 1- 9 deep dish pie crust (unbaked)
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs beaten well
  • 1 cup light Caro (corn) syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 cup coarse pecans

Mix filling ingredients and pour into unbaked pie crust.   Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce heat and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Cool before serving.

Homemade Pie Crust
  • 1 cups of sifted high quality all purpose flour
  • tsp. Salt
  • cup of shortening (this is the key, don't use a substitute here, I prefer Crisco)
  • 4 - 5 tbsp. of cold water

Sift the four and salt together.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender or fork (food processors work well here too) until the pieces are about the size of a small pea.  Gradually add water while continuing to stir into a ball.  Cover and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.  Roll out the dough using sifted flour on your rolling surface and rolling pin.  Roll to about 1/8" thick.  Place the dough in your pie pan, trim the edges and ruffle or crinkle the edges if desired.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did and still do.  God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!!

Cottages and Gardens - The Cottage Road
1999 - 2010 Cottages and Gardens
All Rights Reserved